GAO: Holding VA to time frame on benefits management system will be difficult

The Department of Veterans Affairs has made progress in implementing its electronic benefits management system, but delays continue to plague the rollout, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office.

This is not the GAO's first report on the system; last year the office criticized defects and a lack of response-time goals for the project.  

Now, five months after that report's publication, the GAO notes that 95 percent of records related to veterans' disability claims are electronic and reside in the system. However, the system does not yet support all disability and pension claims or appeals processing, it says.

"[W]hile the Under Secretary for Benefits stated in March 2013 that the development of VBMS was expected to be completed in 2015, implementation of functionality to fully support electronic claims processing has been delayed beyond 2015," the report's authors write. "In addition, VBA has not yet produced a plan that identifies when the system will be completed. Accordingly, holding VA management accountable for meeting a time frame and for demonstrating progress will be difficult."

There are three areas, according to the report, that need more attention as implementation efforts move forward: determining a "reliable estimate" of cost for the system; establishing goals for system response time; and resolving defects that impede system performance and experience for users.

The recommendations are similar to those put forth by the GAO in September, and the VA concurred with those recommendations at that time.

In October, VA CIO LaVerne Council laid out an aggressive timeline to change technology efforts within the agency, focused on projects that could be completed within six months, those that would take six to 18 months and those that would take longer.

To learn more:
- here's the report

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